Serbian president confirms intention to acquire 12 Rafale fighters

Konstantin Yolshin /

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić confirmed his administration’s intention to acquire 12 Dassault Rafale fighter jets to modernize the Serbian Air Force. 

“We have been negotiating for a year now about the purchase of 12 new Rafales, and we are negotiating with another country about the purchase of 12 used Rafale,” Vučić told local media Politika.  

The statement is surprising, given that no other nation voiced its intention to part with 12 Rafales. The president later clarified his position to Reuters, saying that the used jets would not necessarily be Rafales, and would come from an unspecified western country. 

Serbia, a traditional customer of the Russian defense industry, began to distance itself, instead relying on alternative suppliers following its application for European Union membership in 2011. Thus, on April 9, 2022, six Chinese Xi’an Y-20A transport aircraft delivered one of three FK-3 missile defense systems to Serbia. This was an export variant of the HQ-22 used by the People’s Liberation Army. This platform is equivalent to the US-made Patriot or Russia’s S-300. 

Y-20A number six.

The following six PLAAF Y-20As have been seen heading for Serbia:

20041 #7A4281
20042 #7A4282
20045 #7A4285
20047 #7A427F
20049 #7A4287
20142 #7A428A

— Evergreen Intel (@vcdgf555) April 9, 2022

Serbia also ordered nine H145M helicopters from Airbus in 2017, six Chinese-made CH-92A attack drones in 2020 and is considering the acquisition of Bayraktar TB-2 tactical drones from Turkey. 

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